Hello, Gorgeous: Becoming Barbra Streisand

William J. Mann. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30 (567p) ISBN 978-0-547-36892-4
Bestselling biographer Mann (of Katharine Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor) chronicles the dazzling series of events as Streisand “gate-crashed her way to fame.” Mann tightens the focus in this hefty volume to just the early, formative years of her career, choosing 1964 as his cutoff point. Beginning with her 1960 acting classes at age 17 and her friends then, he traces her journey as a performer. Boyfriend Barré Dennen steered her away from acting into singing, giving her an education on the great female vocalists and helping her develop a club act. After winning contests at a gay Greenwich Village club, she changed her name from Barbara to Barbra (to become “the only Barbra in the world”). Her nightclub performances “displayed the raw power of Piaf,” and word spread. After her TV debut on The Tonight Show, she arrived on Broadway in 1962 in I Can Get It for You Wholesale, followed by Funny Girl two years later. The marketing of Streisand and the men in her life are key themes throughout. Combining extensive interviews (some anonymous) and exhaustive archival research, Mann balances intimate personal details with audience reactions and critical acclaim to etch an indelible portrait of the artist as a young woman. 16-page and 8-page b&w photo inserts. Agent: Malaga Baldi, Baldi Agency. (Oct. 9)
Reviewed on: 07/09/2012
Release date: 10/01/2012
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